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Farther Away

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  3,219 ratings  ·  372 reviews
Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was the runaway most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the twenty-first century. In The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus proclaimed it "a masterpiece of American fiction" and lauded its illumination, "through the steady radiance of its author's profound moral intelligence, [of] the wor ...more
Hardcover, 321 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2012)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,219 ratings  ·  372 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, merkins
Franzen’s second collection of non-fic trimmings is as strong as his first, albeit slacking on the long luscious literary essays that made How To Be Alone such a public event (remember, there were STREET PARTIES when that beast was published!), and too ornithological for five-star status. One man’s birdwatching is another man’s trainspotting and Franzen fills almost 90pp with enormous pieces on crested tits and other porn-flappers. Jeez. Otherwise, ‘On Autobiographical Fiction’ is a brilliant ri ...more
Here is a story about Jonathan Franzen: I read The Corrections several years ago, perhaps just after it was at its zeitgeistiest. Yes that's a word. What are you looking at.

Anyway, I remembered really liking it, and several years later when I found myself contemplating a fairly limited audiobook selection at my parents' home library, I checked out an audio version of the Corrections and listened to most of it on a trip. It was not as good as I remembered it being, but I thought, well maybe now m
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This brilliant essay collection is worth the price of admission just for the first piece, “Pain Won’t Kill You” (his 2011 commencement address at Kenyon College), which is, bluntly put, about the difference between the throwaway Facebook ‘like’ and truly falling in love with someone or something. He uses the personal example of birdwatching: “it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool.”

Yet discovering that enthusiasm for birds taught
B the BookAddict
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: highly recommended
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: other Franzen books

A collection of essays and speeches written in the last five years. It covers various issues which are important to Franzen including the life and suicide of his dear friend David Foster Wallace. It traces the progress of Franzen's unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature, and with some of the most important issues of our day.

An intimate portrait of Franzen and who'd have thought it? The guy is a devoted bird watcher! I am taking this book slowly, don't want to lose the esse
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Listened to the audiobook on my commute to and from work this week. It still strikes me as very much a mixed bag--"I Just Called to Say I Love You" especially is a very profound and moving meditation on technology and our interpersonal relationships, and the Christina Stead essay is very good as well. Otherwise, meh.

Like a lot of other people on this site, I struggled to find interest in the essays on birding.

Franzen has gain
Terry Heller
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the years since he refused Oprah Winfrey's invitation to go onto her show to discuss his novel The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has developed (though some might say "earned" or even "sought") a reputation as a crank, or a grouch. What too few of the stories about him take the time to explain is that he is usually cranky for all of the right reasons. This collection contains heartfelt essays, journalism, and speeches that argue that our smartphones reduce intimacy just as much as they increas ...more
Thomas Edmund
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Franzen's first essay dissects modern technology/internet trends, in particular FaceBook's (and now others') 'Like' feature. He pulls apart the desire to be likeable, and the need to be real, contrasting having many 'likes' to being genuine.

Kinda hits home as I write a review in the hopes that I will receive many 'helps'.

I don't typically find reading challenging in this way, which sums up Franzen's brilliance. While his topics vary to the point of mania, sharp intellect, and what I can only des
Bill Breedlove
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not to be contrarian, but I think I prefer Franzen's essays and nonfiction to his fiction. I enjoyed his earlier book HOW TO BE ALONE much more than either THE CORRECTIONS or FREEDOM. FARTHER AWAY deals with some very personal issues, but ones that Franzen is able to use to illuminate his thoughts on the (mainly) upper-middle class American human condition of the 21st century. There are some "filler" pieces here--a screed against the annoying use of "then" seems to be one--along with book review ...more
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-english
I skipped two essays because they were boring and I just learned from lithub post that in my life I only have time to read 4500 more books, so here's that and it's a first day of the rest of my life.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's about books and birds really. I got it cause I heard about the essay on Munro and then just kept going and was surprised over how much more sympathetic Franzen is here then in what little I heard about him in media.

I might even try one of his novels after this one.
James Schneider
May 01, 2012 rated it liked it
This latest collection of essays by Jonathan Franzen is necessarily uneven. His literary criticism continues to be compelling and enthusiastic, his social commentary continues to be somewhat infuriatingly self-righteous, and his interest in birds continues to be somewhat eccentrically interesting. What colors this collection more than anything is his rage and sorrow over his dead friend, David Foster Wallace. Wallace is explicitly discussed in several pieces, but his specter looms throughout. Fr ...more
Juan Nalerio
En esta ocasión, la editorial Salamandra nos trae 21 textos de Franzen.
Incluye ensayos, artículos periodísticos, discursos, y algún relato de su vida personal en defensa de las aves.
Si te gustó “Las Correcciones” o “Libertad”, éste es un buen complemento para conocer más a un gran autor. Tengo pendiente para leer “Pureza”, espero poder hacerlo pronto.
Olha Khilobok
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If the man says, "Read Alice Munro", you go and read Alice Munro.
M. D.  Hudson
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
There's this group of living essayists/critics that I'm grateful for, but that I can't quite get beyond gratitude to full-blown admiration. This includes Sven Birkerts, James Wood, Clive James, Cynthia Ozick, Joyce Carol Oates (20 years ago or so, certainly not now), William H. Pritchard, William Logan, and Donald Hall, Michael Robbins, Joan Acocela, Anthony Lane, among others. These writers worry about contemporary letters in a way that I find congenial, bracing, and commonsensical. In short I ...more
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it

This is (for me, anyway) an extremely tough book to review on its own merit. Franzen will always be on my "must read" list (at least his fiction, anyway. He earned that distinction by penning my second favorite book to date: The Corrections.) This collection of "essays", however, is an uneven, avian mishmosh that lacks cohesion, and is at times somewhat boring.

The biggest reason why this is so tough to review is that it's impossible not to compare this with the incomparable essayist/novelist, t
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Most books I read usually elicit a strong reaction from me.

By the time I've finished the last page, I have either strongly enjoyed or strongly hated my time with a book. I can then log onto Goodreads and easily put into words what I loved/despised about it.

However, my time with Jonathan Franzen's "Farther Away" isn't that easy to sum up. The collection of essays, speeches and book reviews left me flip flopping between captivation and aggravation.

Overall, I couldn't connect with Franzen's writin
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published in Time Out New York

In his latest collection of essays, Jonathan Franzen reiterates his well-documented love of birds and mourns his late friend, the literary heavyweight David Foster Wallace. Much of the better material here has been previously published. Taken together, however, these writings present a broader, more freewheeling curiosity than the novelist generally indulges in his fiction.

A kitschy gift provokes a cautionary tale on sustainability and emerging economies
May 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: essays
Few contemporary American writers are as good at ridiculing contemporary America as Jonathan Franzen is. He has next to no sympathy for the numerous manifestations of our popular culture and how they almost inevitably leave us feeling empty, unhappy, and less alive as people. And he manages to communicate all of these things in his essays with humor, wit and at times, something approximating compassion. Unfortunately he beats these strengths to death in Farther Away, which is nowhere near as str ...more
Ben Dutton
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new collection of essays from Jonathan Franzen, now one of the grand men of American letters, covers mostly the later half of the 2000s. There are a number of essays here that prefigure themes latent in his novel, Freedom, and illuminate and contrast some of the thinking in that novel.

At its heart are two great essays: the title piece, which explores Franzen attempting to get away from civilisation, at least for a day or two and which becomes a meditation on nature, art and personality all
Eduardo Iriarte
Como siempre me ocurre con este autor, tengo que quitarme el sombrero ante su técnica narrativa, pero cuando entra en asuntos que me son ajenos (como en este caso, el largo ensayo sobre la caza ilegal de aves canoras en ciertas partes de Europa), puede llegar a resultar mortalmente aburrido. Aun así, ya sólo por el artículo que dedica al fallecido David Foster Wallace en contraste con el clásico "Las aventuras de Ronbison Cruseo", merece la pena leer esta colección de ensayos sobre la literatura ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
3,5 / 5

Una linda colección de ensayos y reseñas de libros. Algo de narración autobiográfica también.

Algunos más brillantes que otros. Further Away, que es el texto acerca de su amigo Foster Wallace, después del suicidio y que va sobre todo de la manera en que Franzen digirió el luto (que para él fue como tragarse una piedra cuadrada del tamaño de un balón de fútbol), con una extrapolación con Robin Crusoe de por medio, es seguramente el único ensayo del libro que es arrasador. Cosa que en realid
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In questa raccolta Jonathan Franzen ( considerato uno dei romanzieri più promettenti del panorama americano) raccoglie una serie di riflessioni avvenute dal 2007 ad oggi sugli argomenti più disparati, ma che si possono riassumere nel suo impegno ecologico a favore negli uccelli, in una serie di recensioni a grandi romanzi contemporanei, a riflessioni sulla letteratura e sul ruolo dello scrittore.
Quando ho pensato al motivo di cinque stelle così di getto, sulle prime sono stato in difficoltà, pe
Lucas Johnston
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is closer to a 2.5 than a 3, although it suffers from my having read two more of Franzen’s non-fiction recently and being worn out with his non-stop stories of birds. We get it man, you like birds. Get some new material because after the first two books I’ve really lost my taste for 50 page essays about birds (and this book has two of them!). Aside from that, the book has some good shorter pieces and some reviews/recommendations of lesser-known authors. Not bad, but not memorable.
Maurizio Manco
"Quando lavoro non voglio nessuno nella stanza, neppure me stesso." (La narrativa autobiografica, p. 117)
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Jonathan Franzen best when he's at his grouchiest. There's plenty of that to whet your appetite in Farther Away, as well as no shortage of well-considered thoughts on literature, ecology, and, at his most unguarded and vulnerable--at his most unforgettable--his pal David Foster Wallace. Some of these don't read quite like what you'd expect from him: the brief and beautiful "Our Little Planet," or the opaque "Our Relations: A Brief History," or even the funny-if-a-little-tiresome "Intervie ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers
Recommended to Stephen by: I like Franzen's writing
I ordered my own copy and once it comes I will be able to re-read some of the amazing essays and write something maybe deeper. Okay summer is behind us and I am gradually getting caught up with matters that I have postponed addressing. MY copy arrived.
I have read just about all of Franzen's novels and an earlier book of essays and I like what he writes. I like him so much that I recently had a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in wrists and hands because his name was Jonath
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a bit of a mixed bag, though I enjoyed it more than not. The highlights for me were Franzen's book reviews--there's an enthusiasm behind his recommendations that makes me wonder, 'why am I not reading this book right now?'.

The rest of these pieces range from okay to irritating. Because I happen to agree with him, I found his diatribes against the way people interact with their individual bits of modern technology rather refreshing. His journalistic pieces are tame gonzo, and his comment
Kyle Sergeant
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Franzen understands the sort of writer he is, and I recommend this collection to writers or readers believing they are writers.

I read anything by Franzen (which is better explained in a review for The Corrections) and read this collection with excitement. Pain Won’t Kill You, I Just Called To Say I Love You and Our Relations: A Brief History’s social observations were well thought out and made me snicker, but when I remember this writer claimed “the novel is dead” and the pretention that comes w
Emir Kaymakoglu
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yazarın kişisel hobisi olan kuşlarla ilgili yazdıklarını dışarıda tutarak söylüyorum; kitapta çok güçlü denemeler var. Franzen genel olarak çağdaş yazarlar arasında önemli bir yere sahip, denemelerden oluşan bu kitap da bir istisna değil bence.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some people may find it heartening to see that even someone as talented, intelligent and self-critical as Mr Franzen cannot avoid including the odd clunker in this his second essay collection.
“Our relations: a brief history” is a two-page story that maybe is autobiographical but certainly will remain cryptic to anyone outside Mr Franzen’s inner circle. And “Comma-then” is an eructation about a grammatical usage that grates on Mr Franzen’s ear. He may well have a point, since I accept Mr Franzen
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Book review 1 1 Aug 18, 2017 11:02AM  
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Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. His fourth novel, Freedom, was published in the fall of 2010.

Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri
“Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.” 87 likes
“You can all supply your own favorite, most nauseating examples of the commodification of love. Mine include the wedding industry, TV ads that feature cute young children or the giving of automobiles as Christmas presents, and the particularly grotesque equation of diamond jewelry with everlasting devotion. The message, in each case, is that if you love somebody you should buy stuff. A related phenomenon is the ongoing transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb 'to like' from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse: from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture's substitution for loving.” 21 likes
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